Monday 19 January 2009

The job isn't finished till the paperwork's done!

I have just finished putting together my accounts for the Tax Man, I have great empathy with Vimes from Terry Pratchett's novel "Thud!"; "Vimes fretted through the afternoon. There was, of course, the paperwork. There was always the paperwork. The trays were only the start. .................... Vimes had got around to a Clean Desk policy. It was a clean floor that eluded him at the moment."

Anyway, the paperwork is clearing a little and it means that I can get on with the pots and the first has been the large Anglo-Saxon pot from Gefrin. So here's one I made earlier!

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Wednesday 14 January 2009

Conversations With Pots

When I handle an ancient pot it’s a little like shaking hands with the original potter; a handshake across thousands of years. I can feel the impressions made by their thumbs, the pressure of their fingers pushing the wet clay into the palm of the hand to swell out the belly of the pot, the sweep of a tool to decorate the surface. All of these movements are like frozen, or possibly more correctly, fired moments in time, preserved and waiting for me to decode. When I come to emulate their actions and re-create one of these prehistoric masterpieces, I get to know the potter a little better. A conversation takes place … “Oh I see why you did that” ….”What did you use to make that mark?”.........”Now that’s clever, decorating it like that”. The conversation may seem a little one sided but the answers come back to me from the clay. Above all the act of making a piece gives me a deep sense of respect for a fellow craftsperson.

Learning how the pots were made, how they were fired and how they were used, also tells me a little about the way these people live. People very much like us; some with time to lavish on the careful decoration of a prized possession; some making a utilitarian vessel which will fill the needs of the next few days while in a seasonal hunting camp; some making a final gift for a loved one to take into the “After Life”. I am moved by the simple rustic beauty of these pieces, but they connect me with the ancient inhabitants of this valley and these hills in a way that transcends mere aesthetics.

Sunday 4 January 2009

This month I'll be mostly making Saxon Pots

OK it's New Year and I have a mountain of Pots to make . To add to the Nottingham Pots and Samian Ware for another museum The Gefrin Trust have commissioned me to make replicas of pots from Brian Hope-Taylor's excavations at the Anglian Royal Palace of Gefrin and the Iron Age Hill fort of Yeavering. This will also include earlier pots from the site including a rather fine early Neolithic Carinated Bowl. These pots will form part of an exhibition "AD GEFRIN: PALACE OF THE KINGS OF NORTHUMBRIA" which opens on 14 February and runs till 29 March 2009 at the Old Fulling Mill Museum of Archaeology, The Banks, Durham. Further Enquiries 0191 334 1823
And last but by no means least, I am really touched and honoured to say that I have been commissioned to make a replica Saxon urn as the final resting place of the cremated remains of an archaeologist.

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